The Nub

American Blacks: Losing Ground as Players and Voters

By now (give last night’s result a pass), remedy the Mets and fans everywhere know this: the KC Royals are for real – a very good team. The lineup full of multi-tooled, farm-grown players who blossomed together, does the mid-level club credit. The Royals have an impressive tradition. Owner Ewing Kauffman built MLB’s first U.S.-based Baseball Academy in 1970, designed to attract prospects overlooked by team scouts. Two of the academy’s early successes were African-American players Frank White and U.L. Washington. Both infielders, White played 18 seasons, his entire career with the Royals, making the All-Star team three times. Washington played 11 seasons, eight with KC.

Both played mainly in the ‘70s, when nearly a quarter of MLB rosters included Black Americans. With that history in mind, we noted today, when only seven percent of MLB players are American Blacks, the current Royals’ post-season roster includes a slightly above numerical average two African-Americans – outfielders Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson.. The Mets’ single Black American is right fielder Curtis Granderson.

The “why” of the erosion of African-American presence on MLB teams is well documented: increased recruitment of Latin American players one part of the story, shrinkage of baseball-playing opportunities for low-income black teenagers, another. Cutbacks in the number of playing fields, school teams, etc. is a further part of the shrunken -chance-to-play picture.

There’s a similar erosion of the chance to for American Blacks to play on the political field by voting. It comes 50 years after Congress gave them a Voting Rights law designed to end the practice of placing obstacles in their way. HuffPost’s Robert Kuttner traces what’s happened in recent years::

“Voting rights of African-Americans are being taken away by rightwing state governments, using the very techniques that the 1965 Act prohibited — techniques that were legalized after the fact by a partisan Supreme Court. In the South of the 1980s and 1990s, there were bi-racial voting coalitions that elected economically centrist and racially moderate governors and senators to statewide office, even in the Deep South. Bill Clinton of Arkansas was one such governor. Albert Gore, Jr. of Tennessee was one such senator…Those days are just about gone. The Republican Party in the Deep South is a mostly white party and the Democrats mostly a black party. The GOP has successfully played the race card, and biracial governing coalitions are getting scarce.

“Today, there are no Democratic governors in the 13 states of the old Confederacy (except for Virginia), and a shrinking number of Democratic state legislators…The relevance of this bitter history is that the region of the nation — the former Confederacy — that most needs to come to terms with the racial realities finally being exposed and discussed nationally is in no political position to do so…(Yes), it’s true that over the long term, the South is trending demographically more Democratic. But that assumes blacks will be allowed to vote.”

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Second Guess: An ’86 Mets hero, pitcher Bobby Ojeda, was quoted in the NY Daily News as saying the Mets should have relied on Matt Harvey and Jacob deGram heat in first two Series games with the Royals. His advice to the team and Noah Syndergaard in game 3: fast-ball KC into submission. We know now how that strategy worked out. Syndergaard struck out six in six innings, mainly with his heater.

NL East Upgrade: Mattingly and the Marlins, Bud Black and the Nationals. Bottom Line: Trouble for the Braves and Mets.

On Bud Black: “There is no certainty that the Nationals just hired (in Black) an exceptional manager, though as the example of (Bruce) Bochy shows, it’s absolutely possible. What they did do was hire a trained, experienced manager with nine years running his own ship and nine more years before that as a pitching coach, plus 17 years of experience as a big league pitcher. Experience, experience, experience — did I mention that? That won’t erase the bitter disappointments of the past two seasons. But it’s a long winter. So perhaps settle for: better late than never.” – Tom Boswell, WashPost



(The Nub is a team effort skippered by Dick Starkey. Comments about blog issues are welcome. Previous Nubs may be found by scrolling below.)


About Richard Starkey

Dick Starkey handled media for former NY Governor Mario Cuomo, former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi and many other office-holders and candidates. He was sports editor of the Paris-based Herald Tribune. Perfect Pitch partner Robert Sullivan was the first to adapt focus groups to politics and has been called by Cuomo and others one of the "best" pollsters in the country.